In order to best figure out how Windows 8 appeals to different users, I’ve started conducting several different experiments to see how well Windows 8 fits into the lifestyle of different folks.
So how does Windows 8 stack up for a very casual computer user? I wanted to find out, and so just one day after getting my hands on Windows 8 Consumer Preview, I talked to my mother about it and asked if she’d be willing to actively participate in my little test.
She said yes, and so I drove on over later that evening and set her up with my secondary desktop PC (I pretty much just use my laptop, and my wife does the same with hers). It isn’t a super computer but it has an older Core 2 Duo and now is loaded with Windows 8.
I hooked it up and temporarily boxed up her Mac Mini. She agreed to use it for the next four weeks as her primary PC (she also has a Macbook for secondary use). On Sunday night I called her up to ask her what she thought so far.
Well, my mother is NOT a major PC user by any means. Her average home time on a PC is only 30 minutes to an hour, I’d best guess. That being said, from her limited experience so far she said she actually really liked it. She admitted that she still seemed to like OSX better, but it was worlds better than her last Windows experience.
In 2006 I urged her to ditch her WIndows XP PC for a Mac Mini. Honestly, it had a lot to do with the fact that I always seemed to have to almost weekly travel to her home to ‘fix’ her XP machine. Once she got a Mac, I went over their for repairs and PC help less than twice a year, no joke.
So from XP to Windows 8, she seemed to really enjoy it. I asked her what she liked about it. She said the tile experience seemed less confusing that all the Start menu program stuff. She also liked the People app for Facebook status and such.
Even Internet Explorer for Metro received compliments from her for its ease of use. She told me that in total she’s used it about 3 hours so far. How much of that time was spent in desktop mode? None. No need for her basic computing uses. Though there will be times later this month that I’m sure she will need desktop mode for Microsoft Word. She is a teacher, so Word is used fairly often.
While she has only used it three days, I still think this is a fair example of the use patterns that many ‘casual’ users will likely follow.
For them, Metro probably will cover about 75% of their needs. Word and a few other legacy programs will make up the 25% of the time desktop is needed. Of course, 3 days isn’t very long so I’m more curious about how she feels a month in (which I will share with our readers when the time comes). It is important to also note that while my mother might seem to like Metro, this isn’t to say that all ‘casual users’ will feel the same way.
On the other hand, Windows 8 Metro could really be perfect for less tech-oriented users (like my mom), making the PC a truly more exciting and ‘easy to use’ experience. Will it offer a better ‘ease of use’ experience compared to tablets and OSX? That’s harder to call.
For casual users, which are steadily becoming a larger part of the folks buying PCs, Windows 8 has certainly does seem to have some potential though. The question is whether or not Windows 8 will offer a balanced enough experience for both technical and non-technical users. What are your thoughts on Windows 8 and its appeal to both tech and non-tech users? Share your thoughts below.